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Season ends for Cats in valiant loss to No. 1 seed Richmond Heights

Season ends for Cats in valiant loss to No. 1 seed Richmond Heights


The Mogadore boys basketball team is awarded their district runner-up trophy following Friday’s loss to Richmond Heights.
Tom Nader/Portage Sports

By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


Historically, Mogadore is not a group that will search for wins in losses.

If they are, though, they should find solace in the fact that it has taken the state’s absolute best to eliminate them from the football and boys basketball tournaments this year.

Just three short months ago, the Wildcats’ gridiron season ended in the regional championship to Kirtland, which had won 68 of its last 69 games at the time and had won 55 straight games at one point during that stretch, including six state championships.

The Spartans' Hosea Steele pulls down a rebound between the Mogadore trio of Corey Lehner (back), Devin Graham (left) and Lucas Butler. Tom Nader/Portage SportsOn Friday, the Wildcats’ boys basketball team was matched up against another powerhouse: Richmond Heights.

The top-seeded Spartans dropped the curtain on the Cats’ season with a 70-50 victory in the  Division IV district championship.

Richmond Heights has now won 45 consecutive games as the reigning Division IV state champions.

Friday’s loss for Mogadore also included other hidden gems from the 2022-23 season.

It was the program’s sixth district-final appearance in the last 15 years for a group that recently won the program’s 12th sectional championship in the same timespan.

Furthermore, Mogadore finished the year with 20 wins for just the sixth time in school history, joining teams from 1979-80 (23-1), 1982-83 (21-4), 2014-15 (21-6), 2015-16 (23-3), 2018-19 (20-7). This year’s Mogadore boys finished with a 20-5 record.

“Tonight is tough, because like every year, it is hard to see it end, but there are a lot of teams that would love to trade places with us,” Mogadore head coach Russ Swartz said.

If they did, it would be hard to imagine that team playing with more heart and pride than the Wildcats did.

Respectfully, Mogadore was overmatched at every position, but still managed to keep the game from getting out of hand and got as close as 52-42 in the very early stages of the fourth quarter before the Spartans sparked a quick 8-0 run to make it 60-42 and push back the Cats from getting any closer.

Mogadore's Nick Coffman dribbles against Richmond Heights' Hosea Steele. Tom Nader/Portage Sports“I thought our effort was really good tonight,” Swartz said. “We played tough and physical, which we knew we would and is something we never have a problem with. We played tough, though, once we got over the shellshocked of their speed and athleticism.”

That “shellshock” was a 20-6 first quarter in favor of the Spartans, who opened the game on a set piece that delivered an alley-oop pass from the right wing from Hosea Steele that was caught above the rim and powered home with two hands by Dorian Jones. Richmond Heights also forced nine first-quarter turnovers (24 for the game).

“The thing is, you can’t defend turnovers,” Swartz said. “And once you do two or three turnovers in a row, you can’t defend their spurts. They are too good.”

Mogadore, which was outscored just 50-44 after the first quarter, put together an offensive spurt of its own — on an 8-2 mini-run that stretched between the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth — that reduced its deficit to its smallest margin of the game, 52-42 with 7:28 to play.

Richmond Heights sophomore Demaris Winters raises up for a pull-up jumper over Mogadore’s Layne Miller. Winters finished the game with 32 points.
Tom Nader/Portage Sports

Late in the third quarter, Lucas Butler nailed one of his three 3s in the game, which was followed by a Layne Miller 3 that beat the buzzer after he dribbled down the left sideline away from Richmond Heights pressure, quickly set his feet and launched from the left wing as his momentum carried his body sideways as he released. The impressive shot cut the Richmond Heights’ lead to 52-40, then Mogadore started the fourth with possession and Corey Lehner dribbled from the right wing into the center of the lane and skipped into a left-handed floater in the lane that rolled across the front of the rim and down for a 52-42 score.

“Our confidence was on the rise during that stretch,” Swartz said.

However, the run seemed to also re-invigorate the Spartans, who quickly punched eight points back on the board, with points five and six coming on a thunderous right-handed dunk by Jones, after he had stolen an errant pass near midcourt on a Mogadore out-of-bounds play from underneath its own basket.

“The tough thing is that you can’t simulate that kind of speed in practice,” Swartz said. “To use a football term, you can’t simulate that kind of closing speed.”

The Spartans (25-0) also benefitted from being in the bonus throughout the entire fourth quarter, connecting on 10-of-15 free throws over the game’s final eight minutes.

Mogadore head coach Russ Swartz hugs Tanner Buso during the postgame medal presentation. Tom Nader/Portage Sports

Richmond Heights hit from the field, too, connecting on 50 percent of its shots (27-of-54) — a percentage that ballooned up to 63 percent on 2-point field goals.

Sophomore Demaris Winters led the way with 32 points. He shot 10-of-20 from the field, including 3-of-9 on 3-pointers, and he also hit 9-of-12 from the free-throw line. Jones finished with 14 points to join Winters in double-digits, while Hosea Steele scored eight points and also had team-highs in rebounds (7) and assists (9).

Butler was Mogadore’s top offensive producer with 13 points, and he also had a team-high six rebounds. Nick Coffman (12 points) and Lehner (10) also scored in double figures.





(At Norton)

MOGADORE (50) — Corey Lehner 4 0-0 10; Dillon Pendergast 0 4-4 4; Nick Coffman 3 5-6 12; Layne Miller 2 1-2 6; Lucas Butler 5 0-2 13; Dvin Graham 0 1-2 1; Nick Stephenson 1 2-2 4. Totals 15 13-18 50.

RICHMOND HEIGHTS (70) — DeErick Barber 1 5-8 7; Demaris Winters 10 9-12 32; Jeremy Wilson 2 1-1 5; Dorian Jones 6 2-2 14; Hosea Steele 4 0-2 8; Sonny Emory 2 0-0 4. Totals 27 17-25 70.

MOGADORE 6-14-20-10—50

RICHMOND HEIGHTS 20-16-16-18—70

Three-Point Goals — Mogadore (7-25): Butler 3, Lehner 2, Coffman 1, Miller 1. Richmond Heights (3-16): Winters 3.

Total Rebounds — Tied, 25-25.

Total Assists — Richmond Heights, 15-9.

Total Turnovers — Mogadore, 24-11.

Total Fouls — Mogadore, 21-15.

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